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PSU Football to host Nichols for Homecoming

Panthers and Bison looking for Boyd Division win

GAME #5:    Nichols College (0-4, 0-1) at Plymouth State University (1-3, 0-1)
  Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.



            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Both teams will be looking to get on the winning track this Saturday when Plymouth State University hosts Nichols College in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division contest.

            The Panthers and Bison will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field in Plymouth. PSU is hoping to bounce back from a tough 23-21 loss at UMass Dartmouth last Saturday in the Boyd Division opener while Nichols was a 44-20 victim vs. Western New England in its first divisional game.  Saturday's Homecoming game marks the midway point of the 2012 campaign.

            Plymouth State played outstanding ball-control offense last Saturday against UMass Dartmouth.  The Panthers ran a whopping 80 plays (65 rushing) in the game, gaining 334 yards of total offense and possessing the ball for 44 minutes, while the PSU defense held the Corsairs to 181 yards on 47 plays.  PSU ranks third in rushing among the 16 teams in the NEFC, gaining 220 of its 291 yards per game on the ground.  The Panthers have also been successful stopping the run, allowing only 111 yards per game on the ground.  PSU has played three of its first four games on the road and plays four of its final six on home turf.

            Two Bison quarterbacks combined to throw for 297 yards the three touchdowns in last Saturday's setback to Western New England as Nichols accumulated a season-high 336 yards of offense.  The Bison bring one of the top passing offenses in the NEFC into the game as they average 263 yards per game through the air.  The Bison defense is one of four teams allowing more than 400 yards per outing and Nichols has turned the ball over a league-high 17 times. Nichols has fallen on hard times since back-to-back winning seasons in 2006 and 2007 and will be looking to snap a 15-game losing streak dating back to 2010.

            Saturday will be the 29th meeting in the all-time series between the two schools, a series that started with Plymouth State's first varsity game in 1970.  The Panthers have won five straight and lead the career series, 18-9-1. Plymouth State won 12 in a row from 1980-91, and the teams did not play each other from 1992-2005.  When the series resumed in 2006, Nichols won the first game, 19-14, at Vendettti Field, and PSU has taken the last five, including 27-14 last year at Nichols.

PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD:  PSU is looking for its first home victory this season after falling to Mount Ida in the Currier Field season debut three weeks ago.  The Panthers had a 17-game unbeaten streak at Currier Field from 2006-09, including 6-0 in '09, but has gone 2-3 at home each of the past two seasons.  Plymouth State is 26-10 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 145-61-3 for a .701 winning percentage.

NEFC LEADERS:  Both teams have several players who rank among the  NEFC leaders.  PSU senior co-captains Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) and Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) are among the NEFC defensive leaders; Fiore is tied for second in the conference with 3.5 sacks and Huston is tied for the league lead with two forced fumbles.  Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) is ranked fifth in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 101 yards per game. The Bison have two of the top tacklers in the NEFC in Julon McCoy and Peter Curto, who are both averaging at least 10 tackles per game.  Junior QB Pat Viencek is among the conference leaders in passing yards and total offense, and his favorite target Joe Lambert averages 5.5 catches and more than 100 receiving yards per game.

NEFC HONORS:  Plymouth State has had players on the NEFC Honor Roll in two of the four weeks this season.  Here are the Panthers to receive NEFC weekly honors in 2012:

Sept. 10   DL Matt Fiore (NEFC Honor Roll); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 17   DB Ray Boulay (NEFC Honor Roll)

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Salve Regina, the only 4-0 team in New England, received 20 of 26 first-place votes and tops this week's New England Division III football poll.  Amherst College (1-0) got five top votes and finished second in the poll, while Norwich (3-0) was third and Trinity (1-0) fourth, with the Bantams receiving the final top vote.  Framingham State (3-1), which defeated previous-No. 1 Bridgewater State, moved up to fifth.  The bottom half of the poll includes Western New England (3-1), BSU (3-1), Springfield (3-1), Williams (1-0), Endicott (2-2) and Worcester State (3-1).  Middlebury and Wesleyan also received votes.

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  PSU entered the 2012 campaign with the 14th-highest career winning percentage (.637) among NCAA Division III football programs. Plymouth State was a member of the NEFC from 1971-91, winning or sharing nine titles in those 21 seasons.  The Panthers won or shared eight straight NEFC championships from 1981-88, led by former Heisman Trophy candidate and Sports Illustrated cover man Joe Dudek.  PSU was also a member of the now-defunct Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003, winning FFC Championships in 1994, 1995 and 2001. PSU rejoined day NEFC in 2006 and won its 10th NEFC title in 2008. PSU is playing its final season in the NEFC and will join the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) for football in 2013.

A LOOK AHEAD:  PSU is on the road again next week for a Boyd Division clash at MIT before returning home to host powerhouses Endicott and Western New England on consecutive Saturdays.  

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